Seeking Aruba dining recommendations

for a trip in April. I’m currently eying Zeerover, Driftwood, Boca Prins and Yemanja. Especially interested in local seafood specialties, entrees <$35. And we’ll be there on Easter Sunday, so I guess that will be our fancy hotel splurge, since those restaurants will likely be the only ones open. Thanks in advance!

Well if you are looking for “local” seafood, Zeerover and Driftwood are your two go to places!!! Zeerover is VERY local, meaning (see pics) there is no kitchen and apparently no Department of Health regulations with regard to food handling in Aruba. As you will see, the fish literally come in off the boats, are cleaned / gutted there on the spot, immediately cut and fried on the spot. (notice the man wearing nothing but a speedo cleaning fish). There are picnic tables on the doc, a bar inside (I think) and the fryers are out in the open as well. You order at the window when you walk up, they weigh your portions and you pay by weight then watch them make your order as you wait. Interesting place, the fish was delicious although I didn’t care for the shrimp.

Driftwood is the place to go for local (wahoo, get it wherever you can) fish. The owner has a charter boat you can rent and he will cook what you catch. (at an additional charge). Wahoo is the best fish on the island if you ask me, if you haven’t had it try it as many places as you can. One tip; at the Driftwood, as them for the pre-fix menu, they don’t advertise this you have to be “in the know” to ask for the menu. It’s $ 29.95 and includes an appetizer, entree with 2 sides and desert!!

I’ve been going to Aruba for 25+ years, but I’m not familiar with Boca Prims or Yemanja. Yemanja I believe is relatively new, only a couple of years old, but I have never dined there. Another good place to go but it’s small is the Whacky Wahoo, good seafood and reasonable priced.

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Thanks! Hadn’t heard of Wacky Wahoo’s before this, so that’s on the list, now.

My pleasure, where are you staying? One other suggestion would be Madame Janettes, it’s not a fish restaurant however they have a few excellent fish dishes. It has remained one of the better restaurants on the island over the years.

The Mill, near Palm Beach. It was part of a package deal. We’ll have a car and can go anywhere.

I looked at that place, but there are no prices on their website menu, which annoys me. Is it on par with the other fancy-ish places, like Elements? And if you recommend steering clear of a particular restaurant, I’d love to know that as well.

I know exactly where that is, I’m about 5 resorts north of there Playa Linda. Madame Janette’s is on par with the other higher end restaurants on the Island. It’s not outrageous but it’s no bargain either.

Dining on the island has changed a lot in the last 5+ years. As you will see there is a ton of shopping and dining options within walking distance of your resort and most of the major high rise resorts. Between the different restaurants in the resorts themselves and all the options within walking distance in the newly built shopping area, fewer people rent cars. There use to be a couple excellent Aruban restaurants, Gaspirito’s and Old Cunucu House being two of the best known ones. Honestly the last time I was at Gaspirito’s (about 3 years ago) we were the only table and it seemed to me the writing was on the wall and I haven’t been back since. It’s a shame, you use to have to rent a car (or taxi it) to get to the different restaurants etc. but the development of the land on the strip by the resorts have made walking too easy and most not as many people rent cars and venture further inland anymore.

There is nowhere I would say stay away from, the restaurant at the California Light House, is very expensive for the quality, they survive based on their view. The Screaming Eagle about 1/2 mile south of you, is very expensive as well. Their thing is they have dining beds, you literally sit in a bid and they serve you as you eat in bed. More a NYC thing than an Island thing if you ask me, but not worth the novelty surcharge if you ask me.

El Goucho is the notorious steakhouse on the island, it’s downtown closer to Driftwood, you will pay steakhouse prices for Venezuelan steaks. I’ve been several times, it’s good if you are into steaks.

All things being considered the Driftwood is my favorite and generally we eat there twice during out stays. Both price (ask for the pre-fixed menu!!) and quality make this the slam dunk for me. Also the place hasn’t changed a thing in the 20+ years I’ve been going, they have a parking lot across the street, if not ask the door man where to park.

Elliotti’s is my favorite Italian restaurant on the island, it’s located behind the Alla Hambra casino (about 2-3 miles south of you) near the low rise hotels. (In the Costa Linda parking lot I believe)

Aruba is my favorite place on earth, I truly would love to retire there some day. Enjoy!! Please feel free to ask, or inbox me any more questions. I can talk about Aruba all day!!

Ok, I’ll get rid of Screaming Eagle. I have a vague recollection of a bar in Manhattan that had beds, which I thought was a pretty dopey idea. Seems like a good way to spill food on yourself (and I don’t need help doing that).

Here’s my list, in case you’re interested. Barefoot, Boca Prins, Charlie’s Bar, Daily Fish, Driftwood, Elements, Local Store, Old Man and the Sea, Quinta Del Carmen, Sea Salt, Wacky Wahoo’s, West Deck, Yemanja, Zeerover. We’re only there five days, so obviously I have too many options.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold